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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our fika with the Swedes

My mother--who has friends absolutely everywhere--recently arranged for H & I to meet with some or her Swedish friends. Well, actually, they're the son and daughter-in-law of her friend's friend, so the relationship was rather more tenuous than one might hope for a first meeting. Still, when you're abroad in a strange land, even the tenuous connections count for something.

We rode one of the metro lines to the very end, got picked up by AB, and drove a few minutes to reach their charming house in the suburbs. Friends of mine will know that I'm not really a fan of the suburbs, and I don't want it to sound like I'm just saying nice things about their home because they feed me coffee and cake. I've nothing against the suburbs per se; it's just that they're not for me. But I can still appreciate what they have to offer.

[Photo of suburbs as seen from the car--forthcoming.]

Too, Swedish suburbs are different. Not only are the houses quite a bit smaller than we've come to expect from North American suburbs, the groupings of houses are organized differently, with much smaller streets and smaller yards. We even heard talk of a "common area"--words anathema to most North American suburbanites.

[Photo of common area--forthcoming.]

We had a wonderful fika with AB & GM, both of whom were funny, warm, and well-traveled. They had even met in Montréal! GM, as it turns out, is Montréalaise. It is indeed a small and curious world.

We also learned that a "traditional" fika requires that you accompany your coffee with seven (count 'em, seven) different kinds of cake. Upon hearing this, H immediately asked where one could go in order to experience the seven-cake splendor of traditional fika. When AB responded, "My mother's house," H seemed a bit crestfallen. I've promised to try to find H a properly traditional café, and if I succeed you can count on hearing about it here.

Dishwashing station at a café which serves "traditional" fika.

While AB works for Ericsson, GM is an artist. I personally think that her use of light is unusually good (she did confess to indulging in photography at one point in her life), but you can judge for yourself.

All in all, we had a wonderful afternoon, and it was pleasant to have an opportunity to converse with real Swedes. While we both appreciate university life, it's sometimes challenging to meet locals. We were most grateful for this chance, and we look forward to our next visit.

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